Dear Ms. Behavior:
My partner, Maya, and I are trying for our first child. She is Mexican, and I am white. We plan to have two babies. We’ve agreed that she will carry the first one.
I think we should use sperm from a white donor for me, and from a donor of color for her, so that we each will have a baby who looks like her or me.
Maya does not want me to use any white sperm. She can’t bear the idea of my having a child who isn’t related to her, doesn’t look like her, and leaves her out.
There are lots of issues in our marriage. I am thinking not being able to agree on a donor is a bad sign.
What should we do?
Dear White Mama:
You and Maya probably need assistance to resolve this issue. A couples therapist could help you explore the big scary issues of identity that come up around having babies, which in your case also is mixed with the politics of race.
Can you feel equally attached to and responsible for a baby when only one of you is the biological mother? How do you deal with feelings about the child not looking like you?
One practical solution could be switching your plan around. Instead of each of you caring only about creating a reflection of yourselves from the fruit of your loins, it would be great if you and Maya could compromise, and agree on one particular donor, so that the children will be biologically related to one another, too.
But how do you agree about a donor if you’re committed to having a white baby, and your wife is committed to a baby of color?
Perhaps you jointly can choose a talented and attractive latte-colored donor, and call it a day.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
We are two rather tired lesbians who somehow have managed to raise a pretty good male child to near adulthood. He is home for the summer from college.
The problem is that Kirby, who is 19, wants us to allow his girlfriend, who is 17, to stay in his room, and sleep over. This means having sex, we assume. Neither my partner nor I is comfortable with this idea.
We have had many long family debates about the topic. Kirby says we are being sexist old farts by overprotecting his girlfriend, who is perfectly capable of making her own decisions.
What do you think?
Dear Concerned Moms:
Many people are a little freaked out by the sexuality of their children. But old-style lesbian separatists may be even more sensitive to the appearance of male sexuality, even in the boy child who once sprang from their women-only wombs.
A couple of issues need to be teased apart: Does Kirby seem irresponsible? Does his girlfriend seem too young to decide to have sex? Can you remember your own teenage years, and what if felt like to be young and juicy?
It actually isn’t clear whether you’ve met Kirby’s girlfriend. If so, you should be able to assess her level of maturity, and find out (because she’s technically a minor) if her parents know where she’d be sleeping.
If all that seems kosher, and you already have talked with Kirby about things like birth control, STDs, and condoms, you should let your son have his overnight guest, even if it means you and your partner need to sit in the garage cross-legged, and take some deep yogic breaths.
You obviously mean well. Now, it’s time to give up some control. And be thankful that you’re not the parents of a girl—you probably would feel you needed to protect her from all the turgid penises of the world.
If you’re really afraid to condone adolescent sex (and not just plain horrified by the thought of heterosexual intercourse), think back for a moment to what it felt like to be young and sexually driven. Sexually active teens will find places to hook up, whether in cars, alleys, beaches, or deserted buildings. Having sex at home is really rather safe by comparison, even without the four watchful eyes of Kirby’s Two Mommies.
© 2009 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.